Category Archives: Books

Jeff Buckley: From Hallelujah To The Last Goodbye, by Dave Lory with Jim Irvin

Title: Jeff Buckley: From Hallelujah To The Last Goodbye

Author: Dave Lory with Jim Irvin

Publisher: Post Hill Press

Publication Date: May 29, 2018

https://posthillpress.com/

The late singer’s former manager delivers the definitive account of his young charge’s tragically short career.

BY JOHN B. MOORE

 Considering how influential Jeff Buckley remains (despite only having one studio album released during his lifetime) and the mystery surrounding his early death, it’s surprising that more books have not been written about the young artist. Regardless, his former manager, Dave Lory, has just turned in the definitive book on the musician.

Having worked side by side with Buckley — literally in some cases, as he drove the singer/guitarist across the west coast for one of his early solo tours — Lory knew Buckley better than most at a pivotal time in his career, as he was just signing his first record deal. Lory was there as Buckley built up his backing band, cycling through members, through the recording of Grace, and on countless treks across the globe, offering a uniquely personal remembrance of the singer. While there is certainly a lot of love and admiration in their relationship, Lory also doesn’t filter the experiences by painting the musician as a saint – as is often the case of books about long-passed rock stars. Buckley could act like a dick at times and be highly manipulative, and Lory, to his credit, isn’t afraid to share anecdotes. He also doesn’t shy away from Buckley’s growing drug use.

On the other hand, this is hardly a salacious tell-all, as the author spends plenty of time showing Buckley as a wildly talented, uncompromising artist, who could be sweet and thoughtful at times, with a famous, though demonstrably absent father, who constantly threatened to overshadow his son’s own career despite being dead for decades.

The story around the younger Buckley’s own death is recounted in vivid detail here, as Lory remembers first getting the call that the musician was swept away while wading into the Mississippi River late one night while in Memphis recording what was to be his second album. Lory goes into harrowing and deeply personal details as he describes his state as well as those closest to Buckley in the days that passed before the body was finally found.

Though Buckley was just starting his ascent onto the global musical stage when he died, his debut album remains a stellar promise of an impressive career that was supposed to come and with this book (288 pages, in hardcover), Lory has managed to give us all a look into the young musician’s life as he went about putting that album together and working on its follow up.

 

 

Waiting To Derail: Ryan Adams & Whiskeytown, by Thomas O’Keefe with Joe Oestreich

Title: Waiting To Derail: Ryan Adams and Whiskeytown, Alt-country’s Brilliant Wreck

Author: Thomas O’Keefe with Joe Oestreich

Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing

Publication Date: June 26, 2018

https://www.skyhorsepublishing.com/

Yes, all those stories about Adams WERE true: erstwhile tour manager for the band delivers a crucial fly-on-the-wall memoir.

BY FRED MILLS

With the late, great alternative country Tar Heel band Whiskeytown, it was always a Gumpian prospect: Like the proverbial box of chocolates, you never knew what you were gonna get. Not due to design, of course; the band itself was a brilliant assemblage of talent, and they busted their asses night after night and created some of rock ‘n’ roll’s greatest records. But when you have a frontman as mercurial and erratically-behaving as Ryan Adams, there’s only so much you can do; by some accounts, Whiskeytown must have been eerily like Trump’s White House at times, given the chaos Adams could create.

Okay, that’s unfair. We are talking rock ‘n’ roll, traditionally repository of rebels, weirdos, eccentrics, misfits, and outright psychopaths. So I’ll amend the above statement to simply characterize Adams’ bandmates as “long suffering.” And they clearly got something out of the deal, particularly violinist/co-vocalist Caitlin Cary, who seemingly stuck by Adams pretty much to the bitter end, weathering the frequent roster departures of others and, if appearances are accurate, helping serve as a semi-stabilizing force during those times when Adams went off the rails.

Speaking of those rails, we have Waiting To Derail by, full disclosure, my old friend Tom O’Keefe, who I had known pretty well during the ‘80s and early ‘90s while living in Charlotte and hanging out often with Tom and his bandmates in Queen City punk legends ANTiSEEN. In his new memoir, O’Keefe recounts how he subsequently became Whiskeytown’s tour manager circa 1997 through the band’s 2000 split. I would hesitate to also characterize him as “long suffering” because he signed up for the (paying) gig knowing, at least partly, what he would be getting himself into, something the band members themselves aren’t necessarily privy to when they first get together to make music en route to a full-time excursion into codependency. Plus, O’Keefe can legitimately say that in addition to the teeshirt, he got one hell of a story to tell the grandkids. Here, he’s joined by co-author Joe Oestreich, a journalist and author of several books as well as a professor of creative writing at Coastal Carolina University in South Carolina.

Waiting To Derail kicks off, prologue-style, in colorful enough fashion, with Adams half-passed out and surrounded by EMTs and police, vitals being carefully checked and rechecked. As the incident finally winds down and the EMTs pack up their gear, one of the policemen turns and speaks to O’Keefe: “Goddam, son, I wouldn’t trade jobs with you for anything.” Whew. When a copy says something like that, it’s saying a lot.

Appropriately enough, the book’s first section is titled “The Sheriff of Whiskeytown,” recounting how O’Keefe got the job by (a) having had some prior experience handling tour manager duties and appearing to be moderately stable (admittedly, a very relative term in rock ‘n’ roll); and (b) because he was living in Raleigh, and as Whiskeytown had just finished cutting their major label debut, Strangers Almanac, for Outpost/Geffen, his Austin-based management desperately needed, as O’Keefe puts it, “somebody on the ground to shepherd Ryan and the band through their next touring cycle.” A lot was riding on Whiskeytown, deemed the blossoming alt-country scene’s number one rising star but, thanks to their frontman, already had a bit of a reputation. Writes O’Keefe, “During Whiskeytown’s most recent string of shows—on the No Depression tour, sharing the stage with the Old 97’s, Hazeldine, and the Picketts—Ryan and the band had been woefully inconsistent. They would play a tight set of stellar songs one night and then be drunk and sloppy the next.”

From there we follow Officer O’Keefe as he does indeed shepherd Adams across the musical landscape, from seeing that his charge is awake and lucid enough for scheduled interviews and getting to band rehearsals on time, to carefully doling out the daily per diems so the musicians won’t blow all their dough the first night and ensuring Adams doesn’t get completely hammered before going onstage. Among the memorable scenes:

–A booking at a sports bar in East Lansing where, with many of the patrons preferring to watch the Detroit Tigers on TV, a drunken Adams grows frustrated and belligerent and deliberately starts playing sloppily. A back-and-forth of “fuck yous” between audience members and Adams ensues, and the singer eventually storms offstage, resulting in a rock- and beercan-throwing altercation in the parking lot. “Ryan would hold a grudge against East Lansing for years,” writes O’Keefe. (Presciently, it seems, as many years later, as a solo artist based in New York City, Adams would take umbrage at perceived slights by former associates in Raleigh and vow never to play his old homebase again.)

–Another show, in Aspen, where, in front of a couple hundred people, among them actor Kevin Costner, Adams, who’d decided that Whiskeytown was not “a ski town band,” yanked his amplifier to “11” and, with wall of noise blasting, dropped to his knees and lay flat on the stage for 25 minutes.

–A promotional appearance at a radio station that had been airing the band’s “16 Days” and had requested that they perform it live in the studio, culminates in Adams repeatedly refusing. (O’Keefe: “It was a standoff, and I felt like a UN negotiator.”) The back and forth continues, and finally Adams blurts into the mic, “I don’t have to kiss some guy’s dick just because he wants to hear the single”—at which point Whiskeytown is summarily ejected from “the most important AAA station in America.”

–A late night scare, after a show back at the hotel, where a very fucked-up Adams, upon inspecting the balcony overlooking the 12-story atrium, declares to O’Keefe and the others, “I can fly,” and proceeds to climb up on the railing, “faking like he was going to do a half gainer,” and has to be swiftly grabbed by the waist and dragged down off the railing.

In between his colorful, sometimes-soberly related/sometimes-hilariously spun anecdotes, O’Keefe offers up a series of helpful expository tutorials—Adams’ and Cary’s pre-Whiskeytown background; how the alt-country movement was born and evolved, as well as how North Carolina’s Triangle area—and Raleigh in particular—embraced the scene; the jealousy backlash that a number of locals unleashed on Whiskeytown after the band began wowing the critics and gradually became the most prominent act to emerge from the city. (In that regard Waiting To Derail is an able companion to a previous book about Adams, 2012’s Losering, written by Raleigh News & Observer music critic David Menconi; fans of either volume will definitely delight in the other.)

But of course, as this book is an insider account, you’ve come primarily for the behind the scenes stuff and not the history lesson, right? And O’Keefe does not disappoint. His memory is remarkably clear, his insights into Adams’ personality and motivations profound. Anyone who’s ever worked as a tour manager for a rock band will tell you that they have to be a cat wrangler, a den mother, and a psychologist in addition to taking care of mundane stuff like making sure everyone gets their per diems and the club owner doesn’t stiff them. Waiting To Derail, then, is the type of book that any fan of rock ‘n’ roll—and of course all fans of Adams— will devour precisely for its fly-on-the-wall qualities and how it provides a sharp-lensed view of what goes on after the lights come on and the gear is packed up.

In 2018, Thomas O’Keefe is a music industry veteran with a hugely impressive resume, having worked with the likes of big names like Train, Third Eye Blind, Sia, and, currently, Weezer. Undoubtedly his years spent with Whiskeytown served him well—if his early stint as bassist for “destructo rockers” ANTiSEEN was his rock ‘n’ roll boot camp, then think of his three years in the trenches with Whiskeytown as his tour of Iraq and Afghanistan. Considering all he had to deal with, he deserves a freakin’ purple heart.

 

Daydreaming: The Art of George Hage, by George Hage

Title: Daydreaming: The Art of George Hage

Author: George Hage

Publisher: self-published

Publication Date: May 25, 2018

www.george-hage.com / available via Amazon/CreateSpace

North Carolina rocker and artist shows off his graphic design chops in eye-popping anthology.

BY FRED MILLS

George Hage, who hails from the BLURT home base of Raleigh, NC, is perhaps best known as guitarist/vocalist for hi-nrg, cinematic, Americana-tinged rockers Jack the Radio, whose 2015 album, Badlands, notched across-the-board kudos from fans and critics alike. (Read our review of the album HERE, and also check out a track from it that we premiered HERE, one of numerous JtR tunes and videos that have been featured at BLURT.)

Yet it’s also Hage’s outsized talent as an artist that’s steadily elevated his profile. His work as graphic designer——from posters to album covers to apparel—is what his new book Daydreaming showcases, with ample examples of what makes the boy’s brain buzz when he’s not scribbling down lyrics and strumming chords. It’s a visual feast from start to finish.

The first section of the book, “Illustrations,” commences with his poster art for the Raleigh-based Carolina Hurricanes professional hockey team, and although the ‘canes have not been having a good couple of years, it’s certainly not due to Hage dropping the ball, er, puck, drawing-wise. One standout is a hockey-suited and space helmet-clad cartoon bear zipping around in the cosmos like some latterday Flash Gordon, his hockey stick smacking a glowing energy puck in lieu of a raygun pointed at Ming the Merciless; Hage also includes his preliminary sketches here, something he does on much of the book’s offerings, which allow you to see exactly how he developed his visual idea. Art books tend to just publish the final product, not the in-progress part, yet this strategy seems the perfect way to pull the veil back a bit more if you really want to learn what makes an artist tick. Another Hurricanes poster made me laugh out loud, a brilliant R. Crumb “Heroes of the Blues”-style homage depicting the bear in iconic Robert Johnson mode (suit/fedora/guitar); I suspect more than a few sports fans didn’t get the reference, and merely thought that the poster’s “Say Goodbye to the Blues” text was just a thumbs-up message of hope and good will to the beleaguered hometown hockey heroes.

Similarly, there are posters Hage created for Nashville-based Rayland Baxter (depicted as a one-eyed giant stomping through the wilderness) and Raleigh bluegrass/Americana outfit New Reveille (fiddle, banjo, upright bass and dobro chilling out beneath a tree and under the moonlight)—not to mention an intricate detail of his progression of proposed Nudie jacket designs for another Raleigh Americana outfit, American Aquarium, whose frontman BJ Barham also contributed guest vocals for Jack the Radio’s Badlands. Those nudie jackets would eventually wind up on the sleeve of American Aquarium’s Live at Terminal West; you can watch a video of Hage creating it at YouTube.

Next, Hage struts his chops with a portfolio of his posters for festivals, most notably the Hopscotch Music Festival, the celebrated annual Raleigh music conference that has been shaping up to be something akin to the East Coast version of SXSW, and a Dali-esque Residents-centric image for this year’s Artsplosure art festival in Raleigh.

Musical acts remain the book’s dominant theme, with everything from a Zap comix-style comic strip for Charlotte rockers Banditos, to a remarkably subtle rendering for a Bill Frisell concert, to (of course) Jack the Radio gig posters with a recurring jambox-headed-human theme. Comic books and comic book culture also crop up several times, such as a poster for Charlotte, NC, comic store Heroes Aren’t Hard To Find, and posters for regional comics conventions.

Later in the book comes the “Digital + Vector Art” section, with one particular standout being an intricate yet impressionistic set of vintage modular synthesizers that recur, Warhol-style, across a series of renderings. And the “Apparel” section features photos of people wearing some of the striking, teeshirts that Hage designed. Ultimately, there’s enough consistency across the entirety of the artist’s visual style that a sharp eye might instantly recognize a design as being a Hage one regardless of whether or not you’re a Carolina Hurricanes fan, a Moog synth fetishist, or a Jack the Radio devotee.

He tops it off with a final “Coloring Book” section which, you guessed it, comprises black and white versions of several previously viewed images. Me, I’m planning on diving in to the aforementioned R. Crumb blues homage and try my hand at coloring, which I haven’t done since grade school. Now where did my mom put my box of Crayolas?

Good Summer Read: Flamin’ Groovies’ George Alexander’s Memoir

 

By Fred Mills

It’s always good news when some Flamin’ Groovies news arrives. Let’s add Slow Death: My Life with the Flamin Groovies, a new memoir from George Alexander, erstwhile bassist for the Groovies. An original member of the beloved power pop and garage rock icons, he describes the book thusly:

The following pages represent my thoughts, feelings, reflections and experiences garnered mostly from my posts on social media and centered around my time as a member of the Flamin Groovies. I interject much of my own philosophical and moral beliefs, between the pages I have written concerning the history of the band, to add context and insight into my idealized and admittedly imperfect personality as the writer of this account.

The self-published book is currently available at Amazon and it offers some terrific behind-the-scenes moments about the band, along with equally terrific photos. (Photos here are from Alexander’s Facebook page.)

Incoming: Chris Bell (Big Star) Biography in August

By Blurt Staff

Considering how BLURT pretty much covers everything related to Big Star, this one’s a no-brainer: Venerable music journalist Rich Tupica has authored a biography/oral history of the late Big Star co-founder, Chris Bell, and it arrives in August via the equally venerable HoZac Records’ book division. Need we say more, other than we plan to be first in line at the bookstore for There Was A Light? Advises HoZac, “After FIVE solid years of painstaking research and hard work, Rich Tupica’s epic tome on the deep end of the BIG STAR story is ready.”

Indeed, Tupica interviewed pretty much anyone who knew or worked with Bell, and he also excavated key comments and quotes from folks who are no longer with us via archival interviews (Alex Chilton, among them). Clearly a must-read. You can view the preorder page HERE.

WHY SHOULD THE DEVIL HAVE ALL THE GOOD MUSIC? LARRY NORMAN AND THE PERILS OF CHRISTIAN ROCK, by Gregory Alan Thornbury

Title: Why Should The Devil Have All The Good Music? Larry Norman And The Perils Of Christian Rock

Author: Gregory Alan Thornbury

Publisher: Convergent Books

Publication Date: March 20, 2018

www.crownpublishing.com/archives/imprint/convergent-books

The Upshot: Christian music maverick and iconoclast – who was characterized by some critics as the Todd Rundgren-meets-Frank Zappa of Xian music – loved rock as much as he loved Jesus, and as a result of those complexities he remained outside the mainstream—and therefore retained his integrity all the way to his untimely death.

BY JOHN B. MOORE

 Years before the Christian Rock was a multi-million-dollar industry; before there were massive days—long music festivals spread across the country dedicated solely to it; before it could be divided in sub-genres, of sub-genres like “Christian Ska” or “Christian Hardcore” and “Christian Hip Hop;” before all of that there was Larry Norman.

Norman, born in Texas and raised in Northern California as an evangelical Christian, he loved Jesus and he loved contemporary Rock and Roll, so he decided to marry the two in a way that no one before him ever had. As a result, he made a slew of fans across the globe and just as many enemies. (Count the BLURT editor, who saw Norman perform in the late ‘70s and was blown away by the man’s psychedelic muse, among those fans who still obsessively collect his music. – Books Ed.)

In Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music?, Gregory Alan Thornbury deftly tackles the complex life of Norman, the patron saint of Modern Christian Rock.

From the late ‘60s, after joining the San Francisco band People!, Norman first saw the power of rock music to draw in listeners, particularly with the band’s million-selling cover of the Zombies’ “I Love You”; but it wasn’t until his solo records – opting for major labels like Capitol Records over the tiny Gospel/Christian music labels – that he really started to combine his religious beliefs with his music. Through his songs and interviews he often railed against the hypocrisy he saw in established religions that seemed to turn their back on the poor and needy. That view point dovetailed nicely into the burgeoning hippie and spiritual movements in the ‘60s and ‘70s. He also took full opportunity at his shows, speaking to the fans between songs, about what he saw wrong with the world and established churches. As a result, leaders in the evangelical world say Norman as an enemy.

(Below, listen to a pair of tracks from Norman’s 1972 conceptual masterpiece, Only Visiting This Planet.)

Thornbury does a brilliant job of covering all the complexities in Norman’s life – not simply laying out a fawning bio on the influential rocker and part-time street minister, but also covering his often-prickly personality, growing ego and eccentricities. The musician was surrounded by seeming inconsistencies, including his first marriage to Pamela Fay Ahlquist, a model who also posed regularly for magazines like Playboy.

Though his records were rarely massive sales juggernauts – his grassroots label, Solid Rock, is still considered by many to be one of the first nationally-recognized indie rock imprints – he regularly sold out major venues across the globe. To get an idea of just how broad Norman’s appeal and influence was (and still is a decade after his untimely death, in 2008, following persistent heart problems), consider that conservative tech entrepreneur and Trump supporter Peter Thiel and The Pixies’ frontman Black Francis both contribute blurbs of praise to the book jacket.

For the uninitiated, Thornbury does a commendable job of explaining that appeal. For true fans of Norman, the author lays out a definitive biography.

Devo Unmasks Its Brand Via Official Book(s)

By Barbi Martinez

iconic, er, iconoclasts DEVO are publishing a book to chronicle their 4-decade-long career. Make that BOOKS – there’s to be Unmasked, chock-full of rare photos and bandmember accounts, plus The Brand, a more straightforward rendering of the group’s history. Taken together, the two volumes, which founding members Mark Mothersbaugh and Gerald Casale are overseeing, are intended to paint a complete portrait of the group over the years via member commentary, press coverage, discussions about the records and tours, and of course visuals that will include classic and unpublished videos and artwork. You’ll be able to snag the set as a regular book, aka the “Classic Edition” 320-page book (cost: $65); and the limited-to-500-copies (and expensive, at $330) “Signature Edition” featuring deluxe clamshell packaging autographed by the band.

Details: http://devobook.net/

The Rock ‘n’ Roll Archives Vols. 1 (Southern Rockers) & 2 (Punk Rock), by Rev. Keith A. Gordon

Title: Rock ‘n’ Roll Archives Vols. 1 (Southern Rockers) & 2 (Punk Rock),

Author: Rev. Keith A. Gordon

Publisher: Excitable Press

Publication Date: November 03, 2017

www.excitablepress.com / https://excitablepress.wordpress.com

The Upshot: The Rev at the front lines interviewing everyone from the Georgia Satellites, Webb Wilder, and Charlie Daniels, to the Ramones, Jello Biafra, and the Screamin’ Sirens —and living to tell the tales.

BY FRED MILLS

The good Reverend Keith thumbs once again through his back pages, having not long ago published the final volume of his reviews (albums, DVDs, books, etc.) archives and now turning his attention to some of the interviews he’s published over the years. Dating back to his ‘80s journo days when he was music critic at Nashville’s The Metro publication (he currently calls Batavia, NY, his home), The Rock ‘n’ Roll Archives offers some choice snapshots of artists both big and small, and the results are both engaging and, at times, revealing. Never forget that musicians often toe the party line when being interviewed, donning their promotion ‘n’ publicity hats and dutifully plugging their latest record, their current tour, and of course their eternally cool selves.

Volume One covers a subset of artists clearly very dear to Gordon’s heart, the southern rockers who began emerging within the post-punk college scene of the ’80s. Having previously devoted an entire book to Jason & the Scorchers, his inclusion of an out-of-print interview from ’86 with Jason Ringenberg and guitarist Warner Hodges is a no-brainer. The 1990 story on the Georgia Satellites is, likewise, a logical choice, for both of those bands were hugely influential across the Southeast back in the day; I should know, I was on the scene myself as a Charlotte-based music critic. Some may raise an eyebrow over a Charlie Daniels piece, I suspect, given Daniels’ reactionary image among liberal-leaning sorts. But at this point Daniels wasn’t particularly interested in pushing a conservative agenda, and his insights on country music (“It’s become so static”) are as applicable now as they were at the time. And speaking personally, revisiting Texas’ Slobberbone and Nashville’s Webb Wilder were treats; Gordon rightly pegs the former as having built-in appeal to rednecks and punks alike, while the latter opens up candidly on a number of subjects instead of dipping into his well-documented oddball persona.

Volume Two is no less close to home for Gordon, who has been a lifelong champion of punk rock, something that no doubt made him stand out as a music writer in Nashville. Kicking the book off with a 1990 conversation with Jello Biafra, at the time under scrutiny once by various moral majority types in the wake of the 2 Live Crew dust-up, things quickly devolve —er, kick into high gear! — from there. Prior to reading about them here, I was not familiar with hardcore outfits Blanks 77 and Choreboy, and I’m always up for a piece on the Descendents, DOA, the Meat Puppets, and the Ramones. The ’93 interview with Billy Idol on the occasion of his prescient album Cyberpunk was also an unexpected treat, the rocker coming across as extremely thoughtful and curious rather that interested in polishing his rebel-yell image. And any writer who will cover the Screamin’ Sirens is tops in my book. Having hung out with the distaff twang-punks one raucous, debauched, memorable evening in the mid ‘80s myself, and knowing the Rev as well as I do, I think I can safely say that his summit with lead vocalist Pleasant Gehman was a writer/musician pairing destined to be.

Gordon has a knack for drawing people out, and while this can be attributed either to an empathetic bedside manner in which the profile subject realizes Gordon coming from the same place as they are, or to the fact that he’s a biker-sized dude who could easily beat the ass of pretty much any musician aside from Glenn Danzig, the results are a win-win-win for readers, subjects, and author.

 

 

Everything is Combustible, by Richard Lloyd

Title: Everything Is Combustible: Television, CBGB's & Five Decades Of Rock & Roll: The Memoirs Of An Alchemical Guitarist

Author: Richard Lloyd

Publisher: Beech Hill Publishing

Publication Date: October 24, 2017

www.beechhillpublishingcompany.com

 

 

Discorporate and we’ll begin: a review of the erstwhile Television guitarist’s memoir. As long as one’s expectations are not set upon finding a typical memoir within its pages, it’s time well spent. 

BY BILL KOPP

Everything is Combustible is not your run-of-the-mill rock memoir. But then Richard Lloyd is nobody’s idea of a run-of-the-mill rock musician. As a founding member and leading light of Television, Lloyd was at the front edge of New York City’s music scene in the late 1970s. And Everything is Combustible addresses that period. But Lloyd’s life has been not unlike that of Walt Whitman: it contains multitudes.

The weighty tome—it comes in just shy of 400 pages in a hardbound cover—spans Lloyd’s life from birth. In fact he spends a good bit of ink telling readers of his memories from when he was a mere nine months old. Like most every recollection in the book, the story is told in a deliberately dry, reportorial style, one completely void of both emotion and—it would seem—agenda.

Lloyd goes on to tell stories of his early efforts in wordless communication, and of entering a kind of fugue state. To take him at his word—and there’s absolutely no reason to do otherwise—is to realize that Lloyd was no average kid. His tales of sex, drugs and (eventually) rock ‘n’ roll are recounted in that same take-it-or-leave-it style.

And damned if it doesn’t work. Lloyd’s history is unusual enough that any other approach—especially one that leveraged the more salacious and sensational aspects of his life—would have failed to do justice to that story. And like any good story, each sequence of experiences and events—often presented in a kind of slightly disjointed, vignette style—all seem to lead inexorably toward the next chapter.

Lloyd subtitles his memoir “Television, CBGB’s and Five Decades of Rock and Roll” (it’s sub-subtitled “The Memoirs of an Alchemical Guitarist,” so there’s that) but readers will have to wait until Chapter 18 to get to the rock, Chapter 41 for CBGB’s, and somewhere in between for Television. Luckily the half of the book not about those things is quite engrossing … and more than a little off-kilter.

A recent backstage conversation with a member of a high-profile group yielded this quote: “Most musicians are somewhere on the [Autism] spectrum.” Far be it from me to engage in unlicensed diagnosis from afar, but time spent reading Everything is Combustible leads me to think this just may be true.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course. Lloyd is a masterful storyteller, albeit a decidedly idiosyncratic one. His stories about leaving his body make sense when one reads his prose; the man often writes with a kind of detached objectivity that suggests he really can discorporate.

Readers looking for detailed accounts of exactly which Neumann mic was used on a specific Television track are doomed to come away disappointed; Everything is Combustible simply isn’t that kind of rock memoir. And while Lloyd occasionally dishes on other well-known personalities, it’s not really that kind of book, either. He doesn’t much like Tom Verlaine, but then you probably knew that already. (Ed. Note: Speaking of musical personalities, early in the book Lloyd takes in on the chin—literally—from Jimi Hendrix. Later on, Patti Smith takes in on the chin—figuratively—from Lloyd. Coincidence?)

As long as one’s expectations are not set upon finding a typical memoir within its pages, time spent with Richard Lloyd’s Everything is Combustible is time well spent indeed.

EVERYTHING IS COMBUSTIBLE, by Richard Lloyd

Title: Everything Is Combustible

Author: Richard Lloyd

Publisher: Beech Hill

Publication Date: October 24, 2017

www.beechhillpublishingcompany.com

BY TIM HINELY

Wow is all I have to say. If you’ve read Television co-founders’ book you may come away with the same reaction. The guy has lived a hell of a life and it’s all here in black and white in the nearly 400 pages of Everything is Combustible.

Lloyd was born in Pittsburgh but moved with his family to NYC in the 1960’s and, well, he got into all kinds of trouble living in the big city. After some rough patches (drugs, arrests, mental hospitals, etc) Lloyd slowly began finding his way  and among many of Lloyd’s friends, mostly freaks and burnouts, he met a young man namned Velvert Turner who not only helped Lloyd’s guitar playing, but also introduced him to Jimi Hendrix. Lloyd tells of spending time in Hendrix’s company (usually with Velvert) and has some interesting stories (no spoiler alerts here) while later he met Anita Pallenberg and her then boyfriend, Keith Richards ansd spent plenty of time in their company (he met and hung with another famous Keith too, Mr. Moon and also some guys in another band called Led Zeppelin).

Through his roommate Terry Ork (Ork Records) Lloyd went down to a bar one night to see a songwriter perform named Tom Verlaine. Ork introduced Lloyd to Verlaine and the beginnings of Television were sewn that fateful evening.

Throughout the book Lloyd dishes on Verlaine (umm…seemingly not the easiest guy to get along with) and talks about the early day of the band, including their days at the legendary clubs like CBGB’s and Max’s Kansas City. He also tells how the classic picture on the cover of Television’s classic debut, Marquee Moon, came about (and why drummer Billy Ficca’s face looks vaguely orange).

From the initial Television breakup in 1978 to their reappearance in 1992 (and Lloyd leaving the band again in 2007 to concentrate on his solo career) Lloyd’s life has had more ups and downs than the streets of San Francisco. After finally getting clean for good Lloyd ended up touring in the 90’s with Matthew Sweet and John Doe as well as others, and to say that Lloyd been huge influence on just about every worthwhile guitartist working today would be an understatement.

The story is told in Lloyd’s no-holds barred style. He holds nothing back and tells it exactly like it happened (to the best of his memory) in his very, very philosophical (cosmic) style. The guy is an excellent writer and Everything Is Combustible is at times hilarious, sad, and terrifying. The guy is a survivor who is still out there doing his thing. This book is a must read and one of her best rock bios I have ever read. Again…wow.